Borsch with duck

Serves 4-6
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Indy Lifestyle Online

In countries like Hungary and Russia there are lots of variations on this great soup, some including beef, goose and chicken as a base. It can be served hot or cold and, in summer, can be turned into a jelly. Traditionally it's probably usually thicker than this one, and can be served with sour cream and little stuffed patties called pirogs. This is the opposite - a ruby red broth of jewel-like clarity. Admittedly it's not as homely as some borschs, but it looks very impressive. It is quite a lot of trouble and potentially messy, but if you really want to get into creating clear soups it'll give you a sense of satisfaction. Try to buy raw beetroot for this as you will get more flavour into the soup. Remove the fat from the duck before you begin making the soup, but don't throw the fatty skin away as it makes a great salad ingredient fried until crisp. Add to a bitter lettuce like frisee, or simply sprinkle with sea salt as a snack with drinks.

In countries like Hungary and Russia there are lots of variations on this great soup, some including beef, goose and chicken as a base. It can be served hot or cold and, in summer, can be turned into a jelly. Traditionally it's probably usually thicker than this one, and can be served with sour cream and little stuffed patties called pirogs. This is the opposite - a ruby red broth of jewel-like clarity. Admittedly it's not as homely as some borschs, but it looks very impressive. It is quite a lot of trouble and potentially messy, but if you really want to get into creating clear soups it'll give you a sense of satisfaction. Try to buy raw beetroot for this as you will get more flavour into the soup. Remove the fat from the duck before you begin making the soup, but don't throw the fatty skin away as it makes a great salad ingredient fried until crisp. Add to a bitter lettuce like frisee, or simply sprinkle with sea salt as a snack with drinks.

1 medium sized duck with the skin and fat removed or 4 large duck legs
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 leek, roughly chopped and washed
A few sprigs of thyme
10 black peppercorns
1kg raw beetroot, peeled and roughly chopped (1 small one or 200g reserved for the garnish)
3 litres chicken stock
1 egg white

Remove the legs from the duck and remove the bone with the point of a sharp knife. Put the bones into a pot with the rest of the duck carcass with the breasts on, the onion, leek, thyme, peppercorns and half the beetroot. If you're using only duck legs take the meat off two of them and put aside, adding the bones and the two other whole legs to the pot. Add the small beetroot, or 200g piece, cover with the chicken stock (add some water if it doesn't quite cover the duck), bring to the boil and simmer for one hour, skimming every so often.

Strain through a fine meshed sieve, reserving the carcass with the breasts on (or the two whole legs) and the whole piece of beetroot for the garnish. Put the strained soup somewhere to cool. Remove the cooked meat from the bones and shred it. Shred the piece of beetroot into matchsticks with a knife or mandolin if you have one, and store in the fridge until required. Put the rest of the raw beetroot in a food processor with the raw duck meat (remove the bones from the legs if you haven't already) and coarsely blend. Remove from the processor and transfer to a large stainless steel saucepan. Mix in the egg white and season with salt and pepper.

When the stock is cold, mix it well with your hands or a whisk, with the beetroot mix and put it on a low to medium heat. Carefully stir a couple times in the first couple minutes, then allow it to come up to a steady simmer. The mixture will form a crust that will float on top of the stock. Don't be tempted to stir it, but let it simmer very gently for an hour. Carefully strain the soup with a ladle through a colander or strainer lined with doubled-up muslin or a clean tea towel, being careful not to disturb the crust too much. You'll have a rich, clear ruby tinged broth.

Season the soup to taste, then add the duck and beetroot and simmer for a minute or so to re-heat.

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